In February 2017, an image macro was circulated via social media claiming that President Trump had played golf six times during his first month in office, despite the fact that he often criticized his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for playing golf while in office:
Let’s break this image down and examine each individual claim. There are several: Donald Trump used Twitter to criticize President Obama for golfing or vacationing 38 times during a three-year span, that President Trump golfed six times during his first 30 days in office, and that Donald Trump said during a campaign stop that he would be working so hard during his presidency that he would not have time for golf.
Trump complains about Obama’s golf habit:
Trump frequently criticized Obama during the latter’s eight years in the White House for spending too much time on vacation and on the golf course. However, we had a hard time verifying that Trump had issued 38 separate Twitter complaints on the subject over the last three years:
We searched Trump’s Twitter feed for the terms “golf,” “golfing,” “vacation,” and “vacationing” and found that he had complained about his predecessor’s leisure activities about 15 times between 2014 and 2017. Trump’s gripes about Obama predate 2014, but we used that year as a beginning point since the image macro specified a three-year span.
The image macro did not specify which three-year span (i.e., it’s possible that Trump criticized Obama more between 2011 and 2014), and the terms we searched on may not have yielded all of Trump’s complaints. Regardless, it’s clear that Trump often criticized President Obama for playing too much golf during his time in office.
Trump played golf six times during his first 30 days in office.
On 21 February 2017, CNN published an article about President Trump’s golf trips during his first month in office, reporting that Trump had visited a golf course six times during his first month, although it did not confirm that he played golf on each of those occasions:
President Donald Trump has made visiting his Florida golf courses a near every-weekend habit in the first month of his administration, and his aides are trying to obscure whether Trump is actually golfing during the visits.
One possible reason: Trump was a frequent and vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s golf habit, regularly slamming the former president for playing golf with many pressing issues before the country. Trump even suggested during a 2016 event in Virginia, in a knock on Obama, that if elected he was “not going to have time to go play golf.”
“I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said at the time.
Trump has visited his two golf courses near his Mar-a-Lago estate — Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter — six times in his first month in office.
Although President Trump reportedly visited a golf course six times during his first month in office, we were only able to confirm that three of those visits included his playing golf. The President confirmed one such golf outing in a Facebook post:
The New York Times reported that Trump’s outing with the Japanese prime minister actually included two rounds of golf: 18 holes at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, and nine holes at the President’s club in West Palm Beach. It was also confirmed that Trump played golf with pro golfer Rory McIlroy.
Although President Trump has visited a golf course on three other occasions, it has not been confirmed that he actually played golf during those visits:
The Trump administration does not disclose his golf partners, except for the day he played with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and the South African pro, Ernie Els, about which Mr. Trump tweeted himself. It declines even to confirm Mr. Trump is actually swinging at a tee when his motorcade disappears behind the towering palm trees and crested gates of his clubs.
The White House goes to considerable lengths to keep Mr. Trump’s golf game away from scrutiny. When he plays in West Palm Beach, the press corps that follows him is diverted to a parking lot at a public library across the street. When he played in Jupiter, reporters were sequestered in a clubhouse meeting room that would have offered a picturesque view of the green, except that the windows and doors were taped with black plastic.
Trump said: “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”
This quote is accurate and was spoken by candidate Trump at a campaign rally in Virginia on 8 August 2016:
As this image macro was largely concerned with comparing President Obama’s golf habits to President Trump’s, let’s take a brief look at President Obama’s golfing stats.
President Obama played his first round of golf as President on 26 April 2009, more than three months after he took office. President Obama then played more than 300 rounds of golf (306 according to Golf Digest; 333 according to CBS News) during his eight years in office.
Although Trump has criticized Obama for playing golf too frequently, the latter does not hold the record for most golf outings as President: that title goes to Woodrow Wilson, who played an estimated 1,200 rounds. Dwight Eisenhower played around 800 rounds of golf as POTUS.